Owner / Artistic Director
Kari is the Artistic Director and owner of “Synergy Dance Academy”. She received her dance training at Monona Academy of Dance under the direction of Jo Jean Retrum and Jean Adams. She took classes in tap, jazz and ballet for 12 years and was a part of the Wisconsin Dance Ensemble’s Nutcracker for 10 years. Kari was a ballet, tap and jazz teacher at West Side Performing Arts (WSPA) for 3 years. Kari’s enthusiasm for dance education as well as her organizational and leadership skills help to create a welcoming, joyful dance environment.
Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Team
Leslie is originally from Queen Creek, Arizona, and trained at Arizona Edge. In 2016 she moved to Wisconsin and started training at synergy Dance Academy and Madison School of Ballet. In 2018 she moved to New York City and attended The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where she furthered her education and training in dance along with acting and singing. In 2020 Leslie graduated from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy with a certificate in Dance Theater and is looking forward to sharing her passion for dance with the students and families of Synergy Dance Academy.
Guest Choreographer, Hip Hop, Jazz, Jazz Funk, Team
Bio Coming Soon!
Bio Coming Soon!
Daniel “Kooy” Buie
Daniel (Kooy) Buie has been dancing since the age of 4, imitating Michael Jackson and Usher Raymond. In 2009, at age 18, he began taking dance seriously particularly hip-hop, performing with his crew “Majestic” who was on MTV’s “Made” (America’s Best Dance Crew edition). In 2011 he began teaching hip-hop and choreographing at various studios around Madison as well as working with entertainment company, “Celebrations” where he was often hired to perform at Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s. He started taking part in Hip-hop dance battles in 2014 and has won six of them thanks to his unique and creative choreography and overall style. Kooy enjoys judging these battles and encouraging the next generation of hip hoppers. Kooy considers himself a lifelong student and looks forward to spreading the knowledge of the vast variety of hip-hop styles to all ages.
Team Manager, Mini Movers
Erin is the proud mom of two dancing daughters, Ruby and Lilly and has been married to her husband Bennett since 2000. Erin was in instructor/gym supervisor for 15 years at Badger Gymnastics where she taught ages 18 months to 18 years. On top of her instructing duties, Erin helped with curriculum development and worked in their office. Erin has been active in her daughter’s dance education as a volunteer for 13 years. When Synergy opened in 2012 Erin stepped up again to volunteer for the recital as the lead volunteer organizer, backstage volunteer and concession organizer. Most recently Erin joined the staff of Synergy as the Team Manager. From costume designing/creating and overall team morale booster and organizer Erin does it all with a constant smile and positive attitude. When not at the studio you can find her cheering on her favorite teams from Louisiana, where she’s originally from. If you hear “Y’all” when at Synergy, it’s a pretty good guess it’s coming from Ms. Erin!
Ballet, Contemporary, Tap, Hip Hop, Jazz, Musical Theater, Pointe
Lilly began dancing when she was three years old and was trained at WSPA and Synergy. She is trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, contemporary, pointe, musical theater, and poms. She competed on their dance teams for many years and won numerous scholarships and overall high scores for her solos. She was the lead in Synergy’s ballet productions of Cinderella and Swan Lake. Lilly is currently an Alumni Member for the Tremaine Performance Company after being a member for 3 years. She graduated from Madison Memorial High School in 2019 and was a member of their Poms team for four years and was their captain for two of them. Lilly won many awards for Poms including two overall high score duets, two top 10 solos, and a Disney All Star qualification. In the fall of 2019 Lilly moved to New York City to attend college at the American Music and Dramatic Academy. She hopes to pursue a career in Dance Theater specializing in dancing for Broadway shows. Lilly has been teaching at Synergy since she was a Junior in high school and also choreographs for our various teams. She is so happy that the next chapter in her dance career still includes the studio that taught her so much.
Jazz, Tap, Acro, Team
Susanna began her Dance and Acro Education at the age of 4 years old. Beginning with Gymnastics, Jazz and Tap, she soon fell In love with all styles of dance! Susanna continued her education at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and AMDA-NY. She is certified with Acrobatic Arts and commits to a safe classroom for all students, mentally and physically. She has been teaching acrobatics and dance for the past 10 years in New York City, New Jersey and Westchester. Susanna was a Gymnastics Specialist for the NYC Department of Education’s Saint Nicks Alliance. She has previously been on staff at Queens Dance Project, A Place to Dance, New York Dance, Cresskill Performing Arts and more.
Jazz / Contemporary / Lyrical / Team
Originally from Ohio, Ashley began dancing at a young age at Zahnow Dance Studio. She was trained in the Cecchetti method of ballet, completing her Grade 6. Ashley’s favorite quote is “Learning to walk sets you free, learning to dance gives you the freedom of all; to express your whole self, the person you are.” – Melissa Hayden.
Commercial Jazz Funk and Hip Hop
Dézhan began dancing independently at the age of nine. He was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin and began to take dancing more seriously as he progressed and recognized his full potential. In 2018, Dézhan’s Senior year in high school, he became the first African American Overall Male to join James Madison Memorial High School Pom Pons Team. He started his formal dance training that same year at Synergy Dance Academy in jazz, contemporary, ballet, and hip-hop. Dézhan’s incredible natural talent was evident to all and he was added to the Senior Dance Team where he competed and was the winner of the 2019/2020 FREESTYLER OF THE YEAR for Tremaine Dance Conventions. Dézhan is currently studying at Madison College where he is majoring in Business Administration and Marketing. after transferring from “Thee Illustrious” Tennessee State University. Dézhan is overjoyed at becoming a member of the Synergy Teaching Staff. His vibrant, enthusiastic, warm and genuine personality brings a smile to all he meets. He is a total joy and will be a supportive and very fun instructor for all! Adult Jazz Funk anyone?
Alternese “Neasy” Griffen
Jazz, Jazz Funk, Hip Hop
Alternese Griffin also known as Neasy, is a Hip-Hop, Afro beat/African, Contemporary, Lyrical, Modern, Jazz, Majorette dance style, Praise, Step, Acro and Tumbling instructor. Born and raised in Charleston, SC, Neasy started dancing at age 3 and began teaching professionally at age 12. She started dance with Linda Harvey doing Ballet as a child and later attended Darlene’s school of Dance where she was introduced to street Jazz, hip hop, and Acro dance. Neasy has trained with Pros Darrin Henson, Christian Vincent, Nappy Tabs, Brian Friedman, Rhapsody James, Travis Wall, Sean Bankhead, Gil Duldulao, Luam, Mr. Wiggles, Kevin Meher, Laura Edwards, and Riquel Orlander of “We Are Heroes” dance crew. She has worked for and with MTV as a “MADE” Coach, and has been featured season 2 and 3 of FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance”. She has Performed with Music Artist: Hurricane Chris, Goody Mob, Big Boi of Outkast and more.
KRISTEN HAMMER has been a company dancer with Madison Ballet since 2014. She has enjoyed dancing classical roles including Dew Drop Fairy in The Nutcracker and Spring Fairy in Cinderella by W. Earle Smith, as well as neoclassical roles including First Theme in The Four Temperaments and in Elegie, both by George Balanchine. She has been featured in several contemporary works such as Stabat Mater by Mariana Oliveira and Dracula by W. Earle Smith, as well as many world premieres including Grit and Grace by Jacquline Stewart, and both Spring and Winter by Sara Stewart Schumann. Previously, at Nevada Ballet Theatre, Ms. Hammer performed in Balanchine’s Serenade, in numerous collaborations with Cirque du Soliel, as well as performing in her own choreography. Ms. Hammer has performed across the nation as a guest artist with many notable organizations including Deos Contemporary Ballet, Chicago Repertory Ballet, Capital City Theater, and for Marlene Skog of the UW Dance Department. September 2018, she had the special opportunity to perform with Andrew Erickson, in his staging of Arnold Schoenberg’s Book of the Hanging Gardens in collaboration with Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano and the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago. In 2016, Hammer choreographed, and danced in Encore!, an independent production and choreographer’s showcase performed at The Overture Center for the Arts. In less than three weeks the dancer-run project commissioned nine new works, raised over $14,000, and was performed to sold-out audiences. Ms. Hammer has additionally performed in Swan Lake, Giselle, The Rite of Spring, Balanchine’s Raymonda Variations, and numerous original works. She holds a B.S. degree in Dance Arts Administration from Butler University.
Hip Hop, Team
Bio Coming Soon!
Lauren grew up in Northern California where she trained at Dance Academy USA and performed on their competition team for 12 years. Lauren’s dance training includes ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, musical theater, hip hop and tap. Lauren traveled and performed with LA Dance Magic for three years as a convention assistant and company member. After graduating high school, Lauren attended the UW-Madison as a dance major until an injury forced her to pivot and change majors. After graduating with her degree in Advertising, she lived and worked at an ad agency in Milwaukee.
Ellie McShane is a Junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison pursuing a BFA in dance and a BA in English-literature. She grew up in Grayslake, Illinois, where she studied dance at Waterford Dance Academy for fourteen years. She has worked as a dance teacher at Waterford Dance Academy, the Round Lake Area Park District Studio of Dance, and Madison-based organization Performing Ourselves. During her time at UW-Madison, she has performed in works by peers and faculty and presented her own choreography. Through the UW-Madison Dance Department, she has been honored with scholarships to further her studies at UW and to attend dance intensives at Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Camp and Bates Dance Festival. She is super excited to be joining the Synergy Dance Academy team and looks forward to dancing with you!
Contemporary, Jazz, Guest Choreographer, Musical Theater, Team
Bio Coming Soon!
Ballet, Contemporary, Fitness, Guest Choreographer, Jazz, Lyrical, Pointe, Team
Caitlyn grew up in Madison, Wisconsin training at Synergy Dance Academy. She began attending Tremaine Dance conventions at age 7, and became a member of the Tremaine Performance Program at age 12. Tremaine was a key outlet in her training to push her to the next level. In 2015, She was announced Senior Female Dancer of the Year. Since, she has continued her training at Joffery Ballet Chicago, Alonzo King Lines Ballet and continues to work with established teachers across the country. She moved to LA in 2017, but soon after adventured to Japan starting her professional career working at Tokyo Disney Land as an aerialist, dancer and actor. She has since moved back to LA continuing to perform and audition. Her passions don’t stop at dance. She is also a personal trainer, and working in the fitness industry when she’s not busy performing.
Tammie is the proud mom of 4 children, 3 of which are dancers. Before she was our Studio Manager she had a career in the Assisted Living Industry with a focus on State and Federal regulatory compliance, EHR and EMAR implementation/training, policy/procedure development and and as an experienced trainer. She runs all of the operational aspects (software management, billing, event planning and purchasing) of Synergy along with assisting in program development, costume creation/management and marketing. Her strong organizational skills and ability to juggle multiple projects at once, while maintaining her sense of humor, is remarkable to all who come to Synergy. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who works as hard as Tammie does…..
Ballet / Pointe / Team
Annika began her ballet training with the School of Madison Ballet in 2005 and spent summers studying with various professional ballet schools including: Ballet Chicago, Milwaukee Ballet, Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She began dancing professionally with Madison Ballet’s company in 2014, under the direction of W. Earle Smith, and has been teaching for three years.
Crystal Sutherland earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Columbia College Chicago in 2016, focusing her degree on pedagogy. The Wisconsin native is trained in rigorous modern technique and others such as ballet, jazz, improvisation, and West African. She is educated in dance composition, production, theory, anatomy, history, and pedagogy from qualified professionals. She has been educated about Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Alexander, Graham, Humphrey, and Petronio technique. Crystal has performed in choreography during her time at Columbia under the direction of Taisha Paggett, Alicia Wilson, Rebecca Huang, Pamela McNeil, Dr. Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris, and Jessica Miller Tomlinson. Crystal has had the pleasure of being a choreographer, performer, teacher, and director with Madison Contemporary Dance for three years. Within MCD, she performed in pieces under the direction of Corinne Jones, Michael Knight, Natalie Nemeckay, Tyler Nemmers, Beth Piccolo, Kimberly Smith, and herself. Crystal is an award-winning choreographer and recently, her piece, “Remember My Name,” was selected for the final gala at Cathedral Dance Festival in 2019. Crystal loves sharing her passion for dance with her students and is incredibly proud of all of them!